Kickstart the Week(end) with The Kugali Anthology

By: Nicole D’Andria

This time on “Kickstart the Week” we’re featuring The Kugali Anthology, which showcases African stories. It’s a 200 page anthology featuring six stories from 15 creators with two covers. You even have your pick of versions, including dark and gory Raki Edition and the child-friendly Regular Edition.

The Kugali Anthology brings together creators who come from Across Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda) and other parts of the world, including Venezuela, Brazil, Jamaica, the US and the UK.

The Raki Edition features the stories Oro, created by Gbenle MaverickKayin and Abeni, created by Juni Ba and Iku, created by Ziki Nelson. The Regular Edition Under a Jovian Sun, created by The Coker Coop; Razor-Man, created by Bill Masuku and Mumu Juju, Created by Etubi Onucheyo.

The Kugali Anthology has already raised over $20,000, blowing away their $13,984. The project will end on March 28, 2018 at 3:17 PM EDT. Take your pick of a Raki Edition of Regular Edition digital (£9) anthology (or both for £15 if you can’t decide!) or physical copies (one for £25, both for £40) exclusive prints and Mumu Juju pidgin English flashcards (£15) and more. Check out the rest on their official Kickstarter page.

Enjoy an interview with several members of the anthology, including: writer, logistics and operations man Ziki Nelson; Razor-Man creative team Bill Masuku and Gbenle Maverick; writer/artist of Kayin and Abeni, Juni Ba; and the artist of Mumu Juju, Etubi Onucheyo.

Me: What initially inspired the creation of this anthology and why do you feel it’s important?

Nelson: The Kugali Anthology is an opportunity for myself and the other creators working on the project to showcase our culture the way we see it. For me personally, growing up in Nigeria my elders would often tell me stories. Stories about ancient heroes, myths and legends. When I left Nigeria all I had of these stories were memories so I wanted to use the magic of art and storytelling to recreate them.

Me: What is your specific role on the book?

Nelson: I handle most of the logistics and operations: printing, fulfillment, etc., while my partner Tolu coordinates with the contributors. However, I’m also working on this project as a writer and will be showcasing my debut graphic novel as part of the anthology. It’s a dark fantasy called Iku that follows the plight of a cursed warrior.

Me: How did you go about finding the creators to work on this book?

Nelson: Kugali started off as a podcast. Each week Tolu and I would interview various artists and writers of African descent. Eventually we built up a good list of really talented creators so when the time came we knew who to turn to.

Me: The anthology has two wings: the REGULAR EDITION for all ages and the RAKI EDITION for mature readers. Why did you decide to split the book like this?

Nelson: We did it to give our contributors the freedom to tell the stories that they’re most passionate about. At the same time we think it’s important that our stories are accessible to children. Therefore, splitting the anthology into two wings seemed like the best solution.

Regular Edition
Raki Edition

Me: What do you think is the number one reason why people should back this Kickstarter?

Nelson: I remember when I first discovered manga and anime it immediately became an obsession of mine. As a child I didn’t really think too much about the fact that these stories were from Japan. As I grew older I started to think about how remarkable it is that stories from Japan could speak to me on such a deep level despite the fact that I’m from Nigeria. I want to recreate that experience for all of our readers and offer them an opportunity to enjoy art and storytelling from a completely different perspective.

Me: For people interested in creating a comic book anthology, what advice would you give them?

Nelson: Take your time and come up with a solid plan but don’t spend forever deliberating, give yourself a deadline and then execute. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. It’s part of the journey.

 

Me: How would you describe your story and its themes?

Masuku: Razor-Man is set in a world that is paralleling current events in Zimbabwe. All wrapped up as an escapist mix of superoheroics and modernized African fantasy action.

Me: What do you think is the number one reason why people should back this Kickstarter?

Masuku: Never before has such a vast array of talents been collected into a single book. Right at the birth of African visual literature, it’s a need to have book as all the stories take off.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

Masuku: Keep daydreaming, keep doodling. Keep getting lost on your mind and make notes of people you’ve never met before in your mind but know so well. When the time comes to tell their stories people will be ready to greet them, so do a good job of introducing them.

 

Me: What was your favorite page/panel to work on and why?

Maverick: These two pages are probably my favourite [Shown below]. They were both really hard to draw and you know when they say that we are our own greatest critics? Well I was largely satisfied with these pages.

Me: What do you think is the number one reason why people should back this Kickstarter?

Maverick: Kugali gives young Africans a platform to express their creativity. It’s somewhat an underrepresented territory, I mean, African comic stories. It’s important to us that we have such a Backbone cheering up our work and giving us universal visibility…

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Maverick: Keep practicing every day. There are no shortcuts.

 

Me: How would you describe your story and its themes?

Ba: I guess they’re the manifestation of my own questions and personal struggles, but packaged in a fun and fantasy format. If it can serve as therapy for me, it’s great, but I know it also serves as a fun source of escapism and inspiration for myself and for others. And that’s probably better.

Me: What do you think is the number one reason why people should back this Kickstarter?

Ba: The effect and power of messages depend on the mouth that emits them. We should aim to have messages about ourselves come from our own mouth, not the mouth of others. It’s fine if others want to speak too, as long as they’re truthful, but we won’t to have to shy away from their words if we have our own.

Supporting Kugali is a way not only to ensure those new voices are heard, but also a way for those who never heard them before to be exposed to new, exciting, original things that the mainstream just doesn’t do. It’s not just a militant thing. It’s a fun and new thing too.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers/artists?

Ba: To not be afraid to work their ass off! And to seek inspiration in sources they wouldn’t necessarily think of. Everyone knows Dragon Ball, but you will uncover new and original things in obscure movies, or asking your grandpa what his early years were like. It changes you as a person, and changes what you have to say, so it changes your art.

 

Me: What was your favorite page/panel to work on and why?

Onucheyo: The covers: cause it’s just one image that gives insight to so much of the story inside, but hides so much as well. Also, it’s what’s supposed to draw people to the book, even though people say “you can’t judge a book by the cover.”

Me: What do you think is the number one reason why people should back this Kickstarter?

Onucheyo: Let’s bring something different to the table.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Onucheyo: Immerse yourself in the world of art; always look for great visual pieces. Never stop practicing!

Me: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and share underrepresented stories with the world. If you’re reading this and are interested in The Kugali Anthology, check out the Kickstarter here.

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:

Something Real #1

Skeleton Bay Detective Agency Vol. 1

Laugh It Forward! Comedy & Comics to Change the World!

Pneumatic Cases #1 & 2

Blood on the Tracks

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